This article explores youth career decision-making at a time of ongoing concerns surrounding the supply of labour to the hospitality industry. This article is unique in its combination of attitudes of Generation Z with a pre-university-aged sample combined with employer views. A survey of 245 youth provided insights into work values and attitudes towards hospitality careers, which was complemented by interviews with nine hospitality employers. Findings indicate only a small percentage of youth consider hospitality employment an attractive option. However, this insight must be tempered by an acknowledgement of participants’ early, exploratory phase of career development, by the fact that other occupations were equally not regarded in particularly high esteem, and the important role capability considerations played in assessing career options. Beyond a focus on personal development, there was little indication of homogeneity regarding work values. Employer interviews supported the notion of an ‘ignorance barrier’ in relation to youth seeking hospitality employment. The UK hospitality sector is increasingly concerned with addressing the ‘image’ of the industry as an attractive career choice, and this research underlines the importance of industry working together with education partners to promote the opportunities and address negative perceptions.